Epic Theatre Ensemble
Epic Theatre Ensemble is a company of artists and activists dedicated to making theater that inspires dialogue about social, ethical, and political issues. Epic aims to build thoughtful citizenship in communities throughout New York City by producing socially-minded plays Off Broadway and connecting these plays to the public schools through groundbreaking, fully-integrated artist residencies. They believe that when diverse, multi-generational communities are brought together to address civic issues by a shared, live, theatrical experience, it improves the health of our democracy. The company’s diverse programming includes full productions, new play development initiatives, and in- and after-school arts education programs. Epic Theatre Ensemble has commissioned and developed 19 new works of socially-minded theater, including nationally-known plays like Kate Fodor’s Hannah and Martin and Nilaja Sun’s No Child… This new work is presented alongside engaging productions of classics from Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Shaw, and New York City premieres of acclaimed work from around the country and world. Epic's productions have received two Obie Awards, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics, and Otto Awards. Its education programs use theater to foster empathy, create civic dialogue, and empower students' voices in their communities. In 2009, Epic Theatre Ensemble received the Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities for its after-school Shakespeare Remix program.
As part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, Epic Theatre Ensemble will produce Richard III, directed by Executive Director Ron Russell and featuring an ensemble of 12 working under a special contract with the Actors’ Equity union that places teaching artistry and performance under the same umbrella. The artists on stage will be the same artists who are leading the educational residencies for the school partners. The production will explore the ironic humor of the play, and the excitement that comes from deeply connecting with a character as maliciously entertaining as Richard. There will be 1,400 public school students age 12 and up who will participate in in-school residencies with the performers in their English classrooms. The production will reach at least 11 schools in four New York City boroughs and one upstate. Students in this year’s after-school Shakespeare Remix program, where a team of professional artists leads a group of students through a rigorous analysis, creation, and performance project with Shakespeare’s text at the center, will tackle the War of the Roses and be able to connect their own work directly to Richard III.